Benefit for tornado victims overflows in Hardeman

Monday, April 3, 2006
Teresa, left, and Bob Thomason, right, receive a pat and best wishes from a friend Saturday, April 1, at the Hardeman R-10 School benefit dinner for March 12 tornado victims. The Thomasons lost their home, their church and Bob Thomason's mother within about a day.

The parking lots at Hardeman R-10 School were overflowing and the line of diners queued up for food at the benefit dinner Saturday, April 1, did not seem to diminish for several hours as the community rallied around those who lost their homes in the March 12 tornado.

The final tally of tickets collected at the event was 1,422, according to Rayetta Leimkuehler, a member of the organizing committee.

The total amount of money raised was about $18,000, she said, including proceeds from ticket sales, a silent auction and from a matching grant provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

The money will be split five ways, with portions going to Bob and Teresa Thomason, Daniel and Stephanie Keller, Steven and Karen Stewart, James and Jeannie O'Brien and the congregation of the Salem United Church of Christ, all of whom lost their homes in the storm.

The turnout for the benefit was better than organizers had expected.

"When they started parking in the grass we knew we were in trouble," Leimkuehler said.

But if the volunteers running the event were in trouble, it didn't show. In spite of the huge crowd, everything ran smoothly.

The event was organized by the Hardeman Community Teachers Association but a number of school boards and parent teacher organizations from area schools plus many volunteers contributed to the effort, Leimkuehler said.

Food and materials for the event were donated as well.

Contact Eric Crump at

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